Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period and can last anywhere between 21 to 40 days. In the first week after your period, your oestrogen level increases, helping to keep skin clear (oestrogen is the hormone that helps keep oil glands in check). When ovulation occurs around day 14 of your menstrual cycle, progesterone (another hormone) starts to surge and your potential for acne andn blemishes increases and peaks, just days before your period. That is when you will experience oily skin and acne breakouts.
Keeping skin acne free requires more than just diligent skincare. It is also a matter of timing your skin care according to your monthly hormonal surges. That is because monthly hormone fluctuations stimulate the skin’s sebaceous glands to secrete oil. The more oil our skin produces, the higher the possibility that acne problems will arise.
The menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period
Hormone levels are at their monthly low. The skin may appear dull or could be recovering from pre-menstrual acne flare-ups. During this period, your skin needs regular and gentle care.
- Use mild cleansers that contain soothing ingredients like Aloe, Chamomile or Green Tea. While washing, massage your face gently with the pads of your fingertips.
- Treat skin to a moisturizing or exfoliating mask. Leave on for 10 minutes, an exfoliating mask will remove any flakiness on the skin and have skin lightening effects on a dull complexion. The moisturizing element will provide much-needed hydration.
- Treat lingering acne scars and blemishes with acne treatment products that contain Salicylic Acid or Tea Tree Oil.
- Do not skimp on your moisturizer. Hydrate your skin regularly and choose moisturizers that are oil-free or comedogenic.
The week after your period
As oestrogen levels are rising, your skin condition is at its peak with a clear and balanced complexion. For most skin types, ranging from normal to combination skin, this is a good time for professional pampering. Since your skin is not overly sensitive, you can get a simple gentle facial done.
- Opt for a simple regimen that consists of a mild cleanser, sunscreen, moisturizer and a good acne treatment product (if you still experience acne breakouts during this week).
- Keep using the same mild cleansers you used in Week 1 and make sure that you keep your skin clean and fresh by washing your face twice a day. There is no need for excessive cleansing as this may strip your skin of its natural sebum.
- Exfoliate your skin with exfoliating products that contain skin sloughers like Glycolic acid, Lactic acid or Salicylic Acid. However, if your skin is extremely sensitive, you should avoid using such exfoliating products as they may further sensitize your skin.
- Keep skin clean and fresh by washing your face twice a day with a mild cleanser, in the morning and in the night. Use an alcohol-free toner to deep-cleanse your pores.
- During other times, cleanse skin by using water only. Water is the natural healer for skin and can calm your skin without stripping your skin of its natural sebum.
- During Week 3 and Week 4, bring oil-blotting pads with you to mop up excess oil for a matte complexion.
- Pamper your skin with products that prevent acne scars and blemishes. They usually contain Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide, Chlorhexidine and Tea Tree Oil.
- Use an acne-clearing mask this week. For normal skin, you can do this twice a week, while sensitive skin users should only use it once a week.
The week before your period
Your oestrogen plummets while progesterone continues to surge. Your skin is at its oiliest, and painful pimples, bumps or acne cysts flare up.
- Keep skin clean and fresh by washing your face twice a day with a mild cleanser, in the morning and in the night.
- During other times, cleanse skin by using water only. Water is a natural healer for skin and can calm it without stripping it of its natural sebum.
- Treat your acne scars and blemishes with spot treatments, in the morning and in the night.
- Declog your pores by using an acne mask twice this week. Sensitive skin users should only use an acne mask once a week.
- Stay away from any sort of skin trauma this week. That means no waxing, laser treatments, microdermabrasion and facials. You are bound to experience extra discomfort on the acne-affected areas if you do.
If your acne shows no improvement and seems to be getting worse, immediately consult a dermatologist who can prescribe topical acne medication or oral antibiotics.